Is Resident Evil 7’s first DLC any good?

We took a look at the PS4 version while waiting for the PC release.

If you bought Resident Evil 7 off the back of our strong review, then by now you’ve probably survived the horrors of the Baker homestead and are wondering what’s next. The answer is the game’s first DLC drop, the evocatively titled Banned Footage Vol. 1, but unfortunately, due to Sony exclusivity shenanigans, we have to wait until February 21st to play it. Undeterred, I fired up a PS4 Pro to let you know what we can expect from the pack.

There are three new nuggets of content, each of which offers varying amounts of replayability. Let’s start with the one I think is best…

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Nightmare

This is a tight little wave-based mode. As cameraman Clancy Jarvis, you wake up back in the Bakers’ shitheap home and have to survive five waves of molestation from the game’s goop monsters and two encounters with Jack, the Baker patriarch whose insistence on fighting stripped to the waist and wearing sex offender spectacles remains the most terrifying thing in Resi 7. The hook here is resource management under severe pressure. The mode uses a sectioned off area of the house that amounts to a handful of rooms and interconnecting corridors. Dotted around these are a couple of machines which pump out “scrap”, the mode’s currency which is used to buy weapons, ammo, and other upgrades like speed reload and health boosts. The obvious plan is to make loops between the machines, setting semi-deadly traps (which also cost scrap) along the way, while enhancing your gear and dealing with the enemies as cost-effectively as possible.

Sounds simple enough, but Capcom has added a couple of cute strategic touches. Firstly, as you buy a particular type of ammo, so its price increases. This encourages you to mix up your loadout. Become too reliant on the high utility shotgun and shells will eventually become prohibitively expensive. There are also additional scrap machines hidden behind locked doors which need to be opened with corrosive fluid, the first use of which costs a cool 1,500 scrap. So you have to decide whether to starve yourself of ammo early in order to get the machine online, which helps immensely during the final couple of waves. Adding to the moreishness of the mode, high scores unlock more exotic weapons like the circular saw and juicy Albert-01R handgun, which I only now realise must be named after Wesker. Huh. Nightmare owes a little of its DNA to the acclaimed Mercenaries minigame, and although it’s not quite as rich or compelling, it’s a fun, claustrophobic diversion that you’ll want to play a dozen or so times.

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Bedroom

Changing pace completely, Bedroom is a puzzle-centric take on those “Escape Rooms” that have become popular with monied hipsters (not surprising, seeing that an official Resi 7 escape room is making the rounds already). This time Clancy wakes up handcuffed in bed, with mad old Marguerite in the role of his Misery-style nursemaid. (Pro tip: Don’t eat her soup.) Whenever she leaves the room, you need to break out of bed and start looking for a longer term way out. In classic Resi style, that means combining objects, swapping painting positions, and faffing around with clock hands in order to acquire new items to do likewise with. Here’s the kicker though: completing certain puzzles will make a noise that alerts Marguerite. At which point you have 30 seconds to scramble back to bed, but first you’ll need to replace anything she might notice has been moved.

The tension as she busts the door open and begins scanning the room for inconsistencies is real. A single mistake will lead to her coughing up some of her attack bees or, worse, vomiting a giant centipede straight into your mouth. Dr Quinn Medicine Woman she is not. If you make multiple errors, she’ll go hog wild with a knife in your guts. For those of you who’ve played the main game, it works a lot like the videotape in which you have to put a candle on a birthday cake. You’re probably looking at about 45 minutes of play here, and it’s not something you’ll return to once done, but played with friends it’s a lot of fun. If The Witness had been 50 of these puzzles I’d probably have liked it a lot more. Escape rooms are a cool idea that I expect to see the rebooted Resi explore further in the future.

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Ethan Must Die

Hoo boy, I didn’t like this one at all. Ethan Must Die is aimed squarely at the self-flagellating Dark Souls crowd. But where the Souls games earn their punishing difficulty with great design and pacing, this is just hard for hard’s sake. You know it’s meant to be difficult because the sky above the Baker house has turned blood red, and because the game warns you multiple times that you’re going to die as it’s loading up. Initially armed only with a knife, Ethan must crack open randomised item boxes—some of which explode and instakill him—in order to acquire the weapons and items necessary to fend off the heavy enemy presence.

To be fair, you can examine the boxes to see if they’re suspicious (ticking, for example) before smashing them, but that’s a luxury you won’t be afforded when you’re being double-teamed by goop guys. Other interesting tweaks included less lighting in the house, and no map, which makes combat even more fraught. There’s also a Souls-esque system that means after dying you can reclaim an item from wherever your corpse fell. But honestly, the experience just doesn’t feel fun, and I had no desire to git anything like gud at it, though perhaps it will find an audience among more masochistic of Twitch streamers.

Overall, there’s enough in Banned Footage Vol. 1 to warrant your interest if you enjoyed Resi 7 and want to spend more time in it’s world. However, it does feel pretty rum that this stuff came out (on PlayStation, at least) a week after the main game released. I’m not one to bang on about cut content, but given that the main game doesn’t have any multiplayer or other modes, these minigames would have been a welcome addition to the package, and arguably shouldn’t require any additional spend. But that’s gaming in 2017 I guess, and given that Resi 7 has supposedly sold substantially less than its predecessor, perhaps you can see why Capcom feels it has to eke whatever extra it can from the project.

There’s also a second volume of Banned Footage in the works, which will include another two tapes, titled ‘21’ and ‘Daughters’, plus the addition of ‘Jack’s 55th Birthday’ mode. Now there’s a party I’d gladly skip. The season pass for the Banned Footage packs costs $29.99/£24.99 on Steam, but if you’re don’t want to drop any more money on the game, you can at least look forward to the ‘Not a Hero’ freebie in spring, which is new story content separate from the Ethan Stuff and therefore sounds like the most interesting of the lot.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim is Global Editor in Chief. Which means you can’t tell him to stop playing Hearthstone. Or writing about Hearthstone. He’s probably playing Hearthstone right now, honestly. And when he should be globalling.
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